Jewish and Muslim interpersonal relations in the UK can be difficult to come by.
Media propaganda has driven a chasm between both groups.
The Labour Files by Al Jazeera is just one exposé documentary that highlights how the party’s campaign present a tough image of anti-Semitism while ignoring other forms of discrimination, which drove staff to resign.
Another, most recent example that’s contributed to the tensions is Shaima Dallali, black Muslim president of NUS (National Union of Students), who was dismissed due to claims of antisemitic remarks being shared.
On the first day of Islamophobia Awareness Month, I find out I have been dismissed through Twitter.
That is unacceptable.
— Shaima Dallali (@ShaimaDallali) November 1, 2022
Whilst Jewish and Muslim tensions rise, there are people hoping to repair this broken relationship.
Julie Siddiqi, a women’s rights activist and revert to Islam, identified the lack of understanding and misconceptions between the two groups.
Thus, her organisation, Nisa/Nashim, a forum for Jewish and Muslim women to come together, was born.
She talks to us about why she created this organisation below.
It really started with conversations with Jewish friends I had made through the work we were doing together.
We realised that we have lots in common, not just when it comes to faith but also in the issues we face. Challenges that we have surrounding gender, leadership, and how the community is represented.
The relationships between Jews and Muslims don’t really exist much in this country.
A lot of that is about what’s going on in Israel and with Palestinians, and how people perceive all of that.
We want to encourage women to build connections and relationships with each other.
That’s not to say that what is happening in Israel and to the Palestinians isn’t important.
But developing connections and trust here first, and then having a dialogue about these deeper issues. That can’t be done until there is trust and friendship.
It’s been six or seven years since we began Nisa/Nashim, it’s been amazing, difficult, and challenging, but beautiful.
We have encouraged women to do social action work together, feed homeless people together, to work on campaigns together. To look at issues like anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred together, and how can we be allies of each other.
When the conflict gets worse over there, it impacts us here, as it did last summer. How do we navigate that stuff?
It’s not easy.
There’s a need for some of us to be able to come into a middle space and talk about things in a different way.
When it comes to inequalities in communities, the best way to approach this is to do stuff together.
Right at the heart of it is the idea of friendship, which sounds so simple and obvious.
We need as Muslim women are allies, people that we can stand with that will speak up for us.
At the same time, we should also speak up for them, and call out these inequalities in faith communities.
Working with people of other faiths and building allies is so important. Not just with Jewish women, but also in a broader spectrum of interfaith.
Julie has also done a lot of interfaith work with Catholic and Christian women. You can read more about her here.